Will Tidey - Levy should cut his losses and let Modric leave
Published: 14 Jul 2011 - 08:30:13
How do you solve a problem like Luka Modric? That's the dilemma facing Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy this morning, after the Croatian playmaker reportedly handed in a transfer request.
Until now, Levy has been fiercely resolute in his position over the 25-year-old. "He's not for sale at any price," he said in June, adding that Tottenham were "building a team for the future", and thus unwilling to countenance the sale of any of their "key players".
It was a rallying call to arms for the white and blue half of north London. Having failed to qualify for the Champions League, Spurs were naturally vulnerable to big offers for their best players. Gareth Bale, Jermain Defoe and Modric became rumours fodder. Fear was taking over.
Were Spurs about to cash in on their most bankable talent as they had with Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Carrick, Robbie Keane and Darrent Bent in the past? Was the ambition shown by Harry Redknapp's team in the 2010-11 season about to be spectacularly undermined in the name of profit?
Were Tottenham once again to be exposed as that most fragile of beasts in the Premier League - a selling club?
Not this time, if Levy was to be believed. With his team now in the ascendancy their chairman wanted to keep it that way. He and Harry Redknapp agreed that if anything, Spurs were to strengthen this summer. "Daniel has always spent money and he'll do it again this summer," Redknapp said.
So far they've bagged just veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel on a free transfer from Aston Villa - a shrewd move, but hardly a deal to set pulses racing and encourage hopes of a return to the top four.
And all too depressingly for Spurs fans, it's been Modric's repeated desires to leave the club that have dominated the agenda. The mercurial midfielder wants to go, and keeping him has became the posterchild for Tottenham's ambition. I fear they've picked the wrong frontman.
Levy drew his battle lines early. He wrote to Chelsea telling them Modric was not up for discussion, but it didn't stop Roman Ambramovich's empire making public their desire to buy him.
Chelsea have had a bid of £27 million refused, but they're not done yet. They want the player, the player wants the move. Levy is providing the most stubborn of resistance, but you wonder how much longer it can last.
Moreover, the longer it goes on, the less likely it seems that Modric could be happy in a white shirt next season. If he's not happy, he won't perform. And if he's not going to perform, why fight to keep him?
If we're to believe what we read, his relationship with Levy is already untenable. Modric claims his chairman broke a gentleman's agreement saying he could leave this summer if a big club came in. The suggestion is very much that Levy catered to him to get a new contract signed (which runs until 2016), but is now denying all knowledge of the conversation.
When Modric raised the conversation in a light of an offer from Chelsea, he claims Levy told him to follow the club's stance or risk spending a season, "on the bench, or in the stands".
Levy might not suffer fools, but he's not stupid. With around £30 million to be made, that is simply not going to happen. And if Modric really has entered a transfer request, Tottenham surely have little choice but to let him leave now.
If Levy's smart he'll push the deal through quickly and make sure Redknapp has as much time as possible to go about reinvesting the money on new players. And in future he'll think twice before pinning the club's ambitions on a footballer.
They're notoriously fickle, in case you hadn't noticed.
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Will Tidey
- Will Tidey writes on sport for CNN, Eurosport-Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, amongst others. His first book, 'Life with Sir Alex', an account of Sir Alex Ferguson's 25-year reign at Manchester United, is set for release in October this year. Pre-order it now at http://tinyurl.com/6xzl62b. And follow Will on Twitter here - www.twitter.com/willtidey
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